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Why Are There So Few Women Top Managers? A Large-Sample Empirical Study of the Antecedents of Female Participation in Top Management

Cristian Dezső, David Ross, Jose Uribe

Publication type: Working paper

Research Archive Topic: Leadership

Abstract

The low rates of female participation in top management represent a puzzle, especially since some research suggests that the initial entry by women into top management in recent decades should have led to a positive social dynamic that made entry by subsequent women easier. We draw on the literature on majority-minority relations, gender in management, and social categories to theorize that the presence of a woman on a top management team may reduce rather than increase the probability that another top management position in the same firm will be occupied by a woman. Using twenty years of panel data on the top management teams of S&P 1,500 firms, we find robust evidence for such negative spillovers, which are especially strong for women chief executive officers and within similar job categories. We argue that our results are consistent with two mechanisms acting in concert: lack of solidarity among women managers and norms related to gender equity in management.
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Citation

Dezső, Cristian, David Ross, and Jose Uribe. "Why Are There So Few Women Top Managers? A Large-Sample Empirical Study of the Antecedents of Female Participation in Top Management." Columbia Business School, March 2013.


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